In its work programme, the Czech presidency emphasised the importance of sports. What concrete measures is the Council taking or will the Council take to assist and encourage volunteerism in sport and to ensure that sports that rely on the input of volunteers for their operation and survival are supported?
(EN) The present answer, which has been drawn up by the Presidency and is not binding on either the Council or its members as such, was not presented orally at Question Time to the Council during the March I 2009 part-session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
While fully recognising the importance of volunteering in sport, the Council would like to draw the attention of the Honourable Member to the fact that the EC Treaty provisions do not give the EU a specific competence for sport. The Council is therefore not in a position to take concrete measures related to the issues mentioned by the Honourable Member.
The Presidency, on the other hand, plans to continue the regular informal cooperation between Member States in this field. An informal meeting of Directors of Sport will be organised in the Czech Republic in April 2009. Volunteerism in sport, especially in the context of day-to-day sports activities, will be one of the central themes addressed during that meeting.
Visions and concepts of volunteering in sports vary considerably across different Member States. In many of them, volunteers hold positions of information officers and organizers of main sports events – such as EURO (football), World Cups or Olympic Games. In others, volunteers work regularly as coaches in non-profit sport organizations, guide children, youth, grown-ups and seniors in physical activities etc. The aim of the informal meeting is to cover the whole range of activities of volunteers and to map the current situation in volunteering in the respective Member States. In order to achieve that, we intend to distribute a brief questionnaire, the results of which will be presented in April. The questionnaire was prepared together with the ENGSO and European Commission. At the same time we plan to present best practice examples from national level, including the UK one on preparation of volunteers for London Olympic Games 2012.
Our goal is to support the work of volunteers, to improve its recognition in society and to recommend improvements of legal environment for their work. All of this is in accordance with the efforts to establish the year 2011 as the European Year of Volunteering, which enjoys our full support.